Frau Merkel gets a lesson in free speech

Free speech, the driving principle of the American experiment in how free men govern themselves, is a principle that does not always travel well. Free speech requires constant defense and the careful attention of loving hands. Mere lip service won’t do it.

Americans are armed with the First Amendment, the most important amendment of all, and it does not guarantee polite or even responsible speech, but free speech. The humblest citizen is entitled to say whatever he pleases. He can expect to pay the consequences of irresponsible speech, but the government can’t stop him from saying it.

Certain politicians even here from time to time seem frustrated enough to want to create exceptions. Who likes to hear himself berated by pipsqueaks? So far the Supreme Court has held the line, even upholding the right to say outrageous and wicked things unless they lead someone to commit actual crimes.

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